Do I need a Will?
Your Will is one of the most important documents that you will ever sign. It is a legal document that records how you would like your estate to be distributed on your death. Without it the government determines the distribution through rules known as ‘intestacy’. There are also fewer rights for cohabitees and other close loved ones. With a Will in place, you choose who receives your estate as well as specify your funeral wishes, guardianship for your children and whom you wish to appoint to deal with the financial administration of your estate, (known as your executors and trustees).
Why make a Will?
It does not matter how little you think you are worth, it is important that you make a Will. Dying without a Will can result in your relatives and friends facing severe difficulties, both financially and emotionally, at an already stressful time, whereas having an up to date and professionally drafted Will can avoid a great deal of issues.
Why choose us?
When preparing your Will we consider whether you require inheritance tax advice. This ensures that your Will is drafted in the most tax efficient manner. We have a team of qualified lawyers who have over 50 years’ experience between them in drafting Wills and administering estates. Inheritance tax may be chargeable on estates over £325,000. Our Wills however ensure that the tax can be mitigated or deferred until second death, whilst providing for asset protection.
Choosing your Attorneys
Your attorneys are the people who will act on your behalf and must act in your best interests at all times. Your attorney should be someone you trust and competent to carry out their role. An attorney should be over the age of 18 and should not be bankrupt. You can also appoint an independent professional such as accountant or solicitor to act as your attorney.
We offer a free initial consultation, where we can meet to discuss your Will and related matters including providing comprehensive advice on inheritance tax planning.
What is Probate?
When a person dies (with or without a Will), somebody has to deal with their estate by collecting in assets, paying any debts and tax liabilities and distributing the estate to beneficiaries. In almost all cases, before one can access the assets legal authority to deal with the estate is required to be obtained from the Courts, this is known as the grant of representation.
The term “probate” relates to the procedure required to obtain this Court authority. Usually a “grant of probate” or a “grant of letters of administration” is issued to those entitled under law to deal with the estate. The persons entitled to deal with the estate are known as executors (if they are named in a Will) or administrators (if there is no Will); collectively they are termed personal representatives (PRs) and it is the PRs’ responsibility to administer the estate.
How is Probate obtained?
There are various steps required before the grant of representation can be obtained. These matters can be very complicated, such as calculating the inheritance tax position and dealing with various Probate Court and HM Revenue and Customs papers. Asset holders such as banks, share registrars, life policy providers, pension companies must all also be contacted before any papers can be drafted.
As regards the inheritance tax, this is usually only payable if the estate of the deceased, (including any gifts made within the seven years preceding death), exceeds the nil rate band inheritance tax threshold. The threshold is currently £325,000 and potentially up to £650,000 for married couples. If tax is payable, it must be paid within six months of death to avoid incurring penalties and interest charges.
The role of PRs
It is the PRs role to ensure the estate is correctly administered and that the assets and liabilities are correctly reported. If the PRs fail to do this they can be held to account by the Probate Court and personally liable for any wrong doing. Therefore, the task of acting as PR should not be taken lightly and we always recommend that professional advice is sought. By acting on the advice of a qualified solicitor the PRs can ensure that all matters are appropriately considered.
Making a claim against an estate
We can also assist in making a claim against the estate on the basis that you feel should have received something, (or more), from the estate than you have done. To make a claim can be difficult and procedural. We can advise you as to whether you have a basis to make a valid claim or on whether a Will can be challenged on any other ground.